Friday, April 3, 2009

Hey kids, wanna help me bury the cat?

Both of our cats died recenlty. They had lived long and rich lives, each of nearly 17 years, and died peacefully at the vets' office while eating a treat. I must say, I'm the worlds biggest wimp about this kind of stuff. I had known for weeks that the time was coming and just dreaded it. I knew that things were going to be tough for the kids, and had even tried to prepare them for the inevitable.

In case you're wondering, don't ever do that. Surprise is much better in these scenarios. Nolan put on a full-fledge Old Yeller scene that pretty much made me want to die. The younger two were clueless, but at age seven, Nolan got it and went nutso.

And why wouldn't he? These were the world's best cats. I'm embarrased as I write this because I fully realize that this could easily turn into a cat eulogy. Whatever. I can take the heat. First we had the female named Elliott (after T.S. Elliott's book), a patient tortie that put up with more grief from three little boys than I ever could have thought possible.

Then there was Kuchee. Yes, yes, yes - trust me, I know. But never-the-less, his name was Kuchee. We tried spelling it differently, but the pronunciation is the same. Actually we named him Kuching, which is Malaysian for cat (Michele's mother grew up in Malaysia). Obviously a very unfortunate choice because names tend to get shortened - to things like Kuchee. Many times over the past 17 years as I've yelled "Kuchee, here kitty, kitty, kitty!" out of my front door I've thought of changing that stupid feline's name, but I never could. He was, and forever will be, Kuchee.

This cat had a tough life too. In addition to having to put up with all of the teasing that I'm sure he got from the other cats about his name, he had epilepsy and hyperthyroid disease. Some of the more memorable moments in his life include:

  • The day he stopped chewing electrical cords. I tried everything to stop that stupid cat from chewing on cords. Verbal warnings, pillow throwing, spraying cords with foul-tasting substances, spraying him with foul-tasting substances. Nothing worked. Until one evening, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard the familiar grinding noise that I knew meant he was behind my dresser chomping on the TV power cable. I sat up just in time to see a blue flash from behind the dresser, and hear a Fred Flintstone start-up-the-car-style spin out on the wood floor as Kuchee tried to run from the small electrical fire that had started in his mouth. Once we got the burns healed, we never really had much trouble with cord chewing again.

  • The day that he was attacked by a hunting dog. About 15 years ago, Michele and I lived in a small townhouse. We've always believed that cats need to be able to roam outside, and so let both of ours have the run of the neighborhood. One day our elderly neighbor knocked on our door and told me that she would appreciate it if we could find a way to keep our cat from defacating in her flower boxes. Turns out that every day at around lunch time, he would hop up in her petunias while she was eating and give her a squinting stare as he fertilized the plants. A few days later another neighbor told me that he frequently jumped up on her screen and hung there calmly watching her cats freaking out and pissing on the floor. The only solution that I could come up with was to plant a stake in the back yard, tie a string to it, and hook him to the string. For the first few weeks things didn't go all that well, as he would wind himself up so tightly around trees and bushes that I was afraid he would choke.

    He eventually got the hang of things though, and we thought that the situation was fairly workable, until the day that I heard from a third neighbor, the one that we referred to as "the Mullet neighbor". The conversation went something like this.

    Mullet: "Guessn' your der cat don't much like mah dog."
    Me: "I suppose not. Why?"
    Mullet: "Weeeell, couple a days ago Ah opened mah door to have a smoke, right? And Mah dog Lug Nut here run outn' the door. Fore Ah could git him, he had yer cat in his mouth shakin him back 'n forth like a coon, right? Course yer cat didn't much like that, so he sticked his back foot upn' mah dog's nose, and put out his claws right far like and then yanked his foot back outn' Lug Nut's nose."

    Turns out that Lug Nut dropped Kuchee and ran back into Mullet's house spraying blood all over the carpet, walls, gun cabinets, and dart board. We didn't feel right about chaining the cat to a stake in the back yard after that. I'm quite certain that Lug Nut had ample reason for revenge.

  • The day that he learned about underground fences. My next solution to the cat nuisance problem was quite frankly brilliant. Rather than tieing him up in the back yard, what I really needed was a way to keep him away from the neighbors windows. My solution was to get one of those underground fences, put them around the neighbors windows, and when the cat got close he would get zapped. A few times getting shocked and he would stop bothering them. Keep in mind that these fences are meant for dogs, and I should have recognized that when I took the cigarette-pack-sized collar unit out of the box.

    I decided that it would be smart to test the plan before I went to all of the trouble of trenching around the neighbor's windows and doors, and so coiled up the underground wire in the living room and plugged it in. I attached the collar to Kuchee and adjusted for size. He walked back and forth over the wire several times and nothing happened. I'm guessing that the metal leads weren't making contact with his skin. At some point they did, though, and he literally did a backflip like I've never seen. That cat was gone up the stairs and under a bed faster than I've ever seen a feline move. Once I found him, I took the collar downstairs and tested it on my own arm. Holy @#$%#! I'm lucky I didn't kill the poor thing! Needless to say, I felt terrible and took the torture device back to the store...

This could go on, but I've already risked too much blog real estate on dead cats. Suffice it to say that our whole family will miss them, although perhaps not as much as I thought. I was very worried about telling the kids each time that I came home from the vet sans cat. They were a little upset at first, but as soon as I told them that they could help dig a deep hole, throw a carcass into it, cover it up, and pound a wooden cross into the ground they were focused on the job at hand.


Blessed Mama said...

AWWW I'm sorry about the kitties. I know you'll miss them. :-( And I remember when mom and Dave decided to use the torture device on Sasha. She got to the line, got shocked and just froze there being shocked. BZZZZZZZZ!!!! What a horrible device!

WeaselMomma said...

Not that it's any of my business, but maybe you want to consider changing vets. Or at least stop giving them the treats that are offered there.

Glad your a part of Fartherhood Friday, see you around Dad-Blogs.

Bella Daddy said...

Classic! Aw, the memories :-)


musing said...

Sorry to hear about your cats. :(

Alice Phua said...

Hahaha...serve Kuchee right for chewing on the electrical cord! That's a good lesson for the cat after it's been thought countless of lessons not to chew on the cord. Sorry for sounding so evil! :-)

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